“I’ve never even seen banh mi in Queens,” my friend Tatsu Ikeda, declared on Instagram the other day, and put the question to me. Well Tatsu there are banh mi in Queens, if you know where to look. For a long time there were only what I like to call ham sandwiches with Vietnamese accents mostly being served at restaurants. All that changed when JoJu Modern Vietnamese Sandwiches opened a few years ago. The Elmhurst shop offers 17 varieties of banh mi from the classic (think Vietnamese ham and pate) to the modern. The Lin-Sanity sandwich, a well executed fusion tribute to Taiwanese-American basketball star that combines Taiwanese three-cup chicken with Peruvian green hot sauce, is perhaps the most modern of all.
JoJu is a favorite stop on my food tours of what I like to call Southeast Asian Elmhurst. There’s only one problem. Whenever I go there I have to share. Typically my guests and I split a Lin-Sanity. So last night I made a solo trip to JoJu, the first in a very long time. I almost asked a friend, but wasn’t in the mood to share.
Instead of the Lin-Sanity I ordered the caramel pork or thang duong thit heo and some kimchi fries. Sweet and slightly crunchy the mahogany hued ground pork sandwich ate like a Vietnamese sloppy joe. I found myself longing for the far crunchier char siu roast pork on the sandwich from Manhattan’s Banh Mi Saigon, but then the sandwich, in all its modernity, started to grow on me.
In retrospect, the kimchi fries delicious as they were, were a mistake. I could hardly finish them. Perhaps next time I’ll think better of bringing somebody along to share. You game, Tatsu?
JoJu, 83-25 Broadway, Elmhurst, 347-808-0887